Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children.
Michael Hodgin writes of a missionary served in West Africa where his two young kids grew up. When it came time for them to return home, their mother did not want them to look conspicuous, so she ordered “western” clothing for them to wear.
The first leg of their flight home took them to Paris. As the family walked along, the parents realized that everyone was staring at them. When they turned around they discovered why. Their children were carrying their suitcases on their heads.
What could be more natural? Children learn by imitation. That is why play is so vital for them. By pretending to be a fireman or a mom they are learning to grow up.
This principle, however, is not only true for children, but adults as well. We become what we pretend to be. If that’s a hard concept to swallow, ask a professional actor.
In the 1930s, Lee Strasberg recruited 30 actors and formed an acting school. Actors were taught how to “pretend” they were in different emotional states. That is what actors do. But Strasberg was so good, that a co-founder of the acting school, Stella Adler said about Lee, “He would push people into spaces that they should not go without a licensed therapist present.” Strasberg himself would often tell his actors that they should get therapy.
Why? When good actors play a character who is, say, psychologically disturbed, it can cause actual psychological problems for them.
There is a simpler way to convince skeptics that even adults become what they pretend to be. A team of German researchers had a group look at a cartoon and say how funny it was. Half had to hold a pen between their lips, which forced them to frown. The other half were told to hold a pen between their teeth, which forced them to smile. Guess which group said the cartoon was funnier? (If you have no idea, try the experiment yourself on your friends.)
All of us are “pretending” to be like the person we want to become. The crucial question is: who do you want to be?
Our heavenly Father thinks we should imitate him. That almost sounds blasphemous, doesn’t it? But he obviously doesn’t mean we should imitate His attributes of being all-powerful or the omnipresent.
The Bible is clear: “Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children.” How do we do that? Simple – we read the next verse, “and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as an offering and sacrifice to God.”
We are God’s children. And like children, we are to imitate our heavenly Father, by choosing him as the One we want to be like. And He is Love.
(copyright 2012 by Marty Kaarre)